7 Questions Job Candidates Should be Asking in 2023

These are the seven questions that job candidate should be asking hiring managers in today's highly competitive talent market.

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Talent Insights 14th May 2023

questions job candidates should ask hiring managers

7 Questions for Job Seekers to Ask During Interviews

In today's competitive job market, job seekers must exercise caution and come prepared with insightful questions to increase their chances of securing their desired positions. According to Bloomberg's Work Shift, the questions asked during the interview process play a crucial role in determining whether the job is a perfect fit or a potential nightmare.

Compared to April 2022, there has been a 15% decrease in US job postings reported by Indeed's Economic Research Hiring Lab. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) states that the percentage of employers planning to reduce college hiring has increased twofold to 12% since the previous fall. In a recent Goldman Sachs intern survey reported by CNBC, findings have indicated that a significant majority of Gen Z interns, approximately 86%, expect an impending economic downturn, and this perception is influencing their mindset towards their professional paths, and in return -- leading some to widen their job search.

These concerns have heightened the anxiety surrounding job interviews. According to Semrush, a digital marketing company, Google data shows that search queries for "What questions should I ask an interviewer" have increased by a factor of six between March 2022 and the same month this year. It is essential for job seekers to remember that an interview is a two-way street, and they should actively engage by asking relevant questions. Shawn VanDerziel, executive director at NACE, advises that these questions should demonstrate the candidate's interest and knowledge about the employer, while also seeking information about aspects of the job that matter most to them, such as career advancement, remote work policies, or performance evaluation. However, it is advisable to avoid inquiring about vacation days during the initial interview to maintain a focused discussion.

Top Interview Questions

During the first interview, it is appropriate to inquire about the company's recent performance, cultural fit, and general job responsibilities. As the interview process progresses, it becomes essential to ask more specific questions. Seek information about the specific projects you will be working on, the team dynamics, and request the names of peers you can reach out to. Peers can provide valuable insights into what sets the company apart and what it is like to work with your potential boss. Another effective question for a prospective colleague is to ask what they would change about their job if given the opportunity.

Career counselors recommend insisting on specific answers to avoid vague or evasive responses from the company. For example, if the company emphasizes an inclusive culture, ask for specific examples of how this is reflected in their Zoom meetings or office arrangements. If professional development is highlighted, inquire about typical career progression and how feedback and performance reviews are handled.

Flexible work arrangements can be a complex topic, as companies' policies regarding returning to the office may change unexpectedly and vary based on roles or departments. According to Monster, approximately 75% of college graduates are more inclined to apply for remote work opportunities, with half of them avoiding jobs that require full-time office presence. If working remotely is important to you, it is advisable to ask about the company's remote work policy, preferably in written form. However, it is essential to keep in mind that policies may not always be guaranteed. If the job posting mentions "remote" or "hybrid" work, seek clarification on what exactly that entails and the likelihood of it continuing in that manner, advises career advisor Amy Feind Reeves.

Edison & Black, New York’s top tech recruiting company, reports that one of the strongest prevailing hiring trends of 2023 is that job candidates will face strong competition. Asking the right questions is a simple and straightforward yet highly effective tactic for candidates to stand-out. .

  1. If given the chance, what aspect of your job would you alter?

    This question allows you to gain insight into the interviewee's perspective on their current role and identify potential areas for improvement. By asking this question, you invite the interviewee to reflect on their job experience and share any changes they would make to enhance their work environment or optimize their productivity. Their response can provide valuable information about their problem-solving abilities, adaptability, and their understanding of what makes a job fulfilling.

  2. What is your approach to conducting performance reviews?

    Understanding how the company approaches performance reviews is crucial for job seekers to gauge the organization's commitment to employee growth and development. By asking this question, you demonstrate your interest in receiving constructive feedback and understanding how performance is evaluated within the company. The response can reveal the company's emphasis on regular feedback, goal-setting, and professional growth opportunities. It also helps you assess whether the company's performance review process aligns with your expectations and career aspirations.

  3. Do you anticipate any change in your RTO policy?

    As remote work and hybrid work arrangements have become more prevalent, it is essential to inquire about the company's Return to Office (RTO) policy. This question allows you to gain clarity on the organization's stance on remote work and their potential plans for transitioning employees back to the office. By asking about anticipated changes, you demonstrate your interest in understanding the company's long-term vision and your adaptability to potential shifts in work arrangements. The response can help you assess the company's flexibility and commitment to accommodating employees' needs.

  4. Are remote employees given the same opportunities as in-person staff?

    With the rise of remote work, it is crucial to understand whether remote employees receive equal opportunities within the company. By asking this question, you express your interest in ensuring a level playing field for all employees, regardless of their work location. The response can provide insights into the company's commitment to inclusivity, remote collaboration tools and processes, and whether remote employees are involved in important projects, career advancement opportunities, and decision-making processes. It helps you evaluate if remote work aligns with your professional goals and if the company values remote employees' contributions.

  5. How can I learn new skills on this job?

    Inquiring about skill development opportunities demonstrates your enthusiasm for professional growth and continuous learning. This question allows the interviewer to share information about the company's training programs, mentorship initiatives, and resources available for skill enhancement. Their response can give you a glimpse into the company's commitment to employee development and whether they prioritize investing in their employees' growth. It also enables you to assess if the company's learning opportunities align with your desired skill development and career progression.

  6. What career paths are available in this job?

    Understanding the potential career paths within a job is essential for long-term career planning. By asking this question, you show your ambition and desire for growth within the company. The response can provide insights into various career trajectories, advancement opportunities, and potential roles or departments to explore. It helps you evaluate whether the company offers a clear progression path aligned with your professional goals and aspirations.

  7. What really differentiates this company from its peers?

    This question allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the company's unique value proposition and competitive advantage. By asking about what sets the company apart, you show your interest in its distinct qualities and what makes it stand out in the industry. The response can shed light on the company's core values, culture, innovation, or unique products/services. It helps you evaluate the company's position in the market, its reputation, and whether its values and mission align with your own.

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